Many factors are lining up to help make the case for R-290, from demographics and sustainability to regulations. Watch the full video for more on overcoming common challenges, and to learn how one company, H&K International, successfully made the shift to focusing on R-290-based products.
Regardless of the EPA’s current or future actions, Emerson sees a significant market dynamic toward sustainability, lower global warming potential (GWP) and higher efficiency — especially in the spaces where R-290 is acceptable for use.
R-290 is a natural, hydrocarbon-based substance. In addition to its low GWP of 3 and ozone depletion potential (ODP) of 0, Emerson’s compressor test labs* found that R-290 yields more than 20 percent better energy efficiency ratio (EER) on average compared to R-404A and other HFCs. R-290 systems have been found by many to be highly reliable. Hydrocarbons can be used in multiple applications such as secondary systems, self-contained cases and condensing units.
The current charge limit for R-290 is only 150 grams, which can limit unit size and potentially create significant challenges for makers of stand-alone, medium-temperature reach-ins. Manufacturers of larger equipment are also understandably reluctant to take on the inefficiencies of supporting multiple refrigerants in their lineups.
Emerson is participating on the AHRI Flammable Refrigerants Research Subcommittee which will be investigating the impact of R-290 refrigerant charge limit increases. Increasing the charge limits could open up more applications in ice, commercial reach-ins, and potentially in some packaged solutions. The subcommittee intends on submitting the results of its investigation for use in evaluating Codes and Standard revisions for IEC, UL, ASHRAE and others.
Most ultra-low-GWP refrigerants (A2L or A3 with a GWP less than 150) have some level of flammability, which may create some challenges. That said, R-290 systems tend to be reliable when proper protocols and procedures are followed. Integrated cases and packaged walk-in systems can use multiple 150g refrigeration systems in a single appliance. These have low- and medium-temperature applications that help to address today’s EPA and DOE compliance challenges, though DOE test procedures are still in development.
H&K International offers a compelling real-world example of the benefits R-290 offers to commercial foodservice. In the United States alone, the company projects its customers will save more than $769,000 in utility costs over the next three years, with additional savings each year R-290 equipment is in operation.
Watch the full video for more on overcoming common challenges, and to learn how one company, H&K International, successfully made the shift to focusing on R-290-based products.
* The results presented in this post are based on Emerson’s testing. Results may vary based on additional testing and application.